Pressure sores affect around one out of every ten seniors, and are even more prevalent in people who smoke, are living with a chronic health condition such as diabetes, or who have fragile or thin skin. Also known as bed sores, pressure sores are not merely extremely painful – they can easily progress to infections that can become life-threatening. That’s why it’s so important to know how to prevent bed sores. It begins with understanding how and why they occur.
Bed sores are caused by too little blood flow when someone remains in one place for an extended period of time. For those with limited mobility or who are confined to a bed or wheelchair, the struggle against bed sores can seem never ending. However, it is critical for those caring for an elderly loved one to learn about bed sore prevention. So how can you prevent bed sores in seniors? The following tips can help protect a senior’s vulnerable skin from dangerous and painful sores:
Change Positions Often
- Help the person change to a different position every couple of hours if confined to a bed, or hourly if confined to a wheelchair.
- Utilize lifting devices to protect against friction during repositioning.
Utilize Supportive Devices
- Place specialized pads and cushions:
- Under calves to protect heels
- In between knees and ankles
- To lie at an angle, protecting hips
Practice Skin Care
- Clean the skin with a gentle soap and warm water, and apply lotion.
- If the skin is excessively moist, apply talcum powder.
- Massage areas vulnerable to bed sores to improve circulation.
Help With a Healthy Diet and Staying Active
- Seek advice from the senior’s doctor for dietary and supplement tips for improved skin health.
- Encourage the senior to quit smoking.
- Improve hydration.
- Implement exercises each day per doctor’s recommendations.
If your senior loved one does get a pressure sore despite taking the proper precautions, it may progress through the following stages:
- Stage 1: A bruise-like patch can develop on the skin which can be warmer than the surrounding skin. The area might itch or burn.
- Stage 2: An open sore develops from the bruise. This may look like a blister or abrasion and be discolored and painful.
- Stage 3: As the sore gets worse, the surrounding skin darkens and the area is deepened.
- Stage 4: During this stage, damage occurs to the bone, muscle, and/or joints, and a bone infection known as osteomyelitis or even sepsis (a life-threatening infection of the blood) can occur.
Contact the senior’s health care provider immediately if a pressure sore appears. Carolina Hearts Home Care, a trusted provider of respite care in Aberdeen and the surrounding communities, can also help by providing daily skin inspections to help detect vulnerable regions of the skin and the early signs and symptoms of bed sores. Our caregivers can also help with position changes, walking, and transferring to decrease the risk of developing bed sores. Our professional home care services and care team are just a phone call away. Get in touch with us today at 1-855-277-2005.